Parents today are pressured to “fill” any downtime time their kids may have, to prevent kids from being bored or getting in trouble. In many families, any time that’s not designated as “busy” gets filled by screens and devices, games and social media.
Recently Julie Jargon at The Wall Street Journal wrote an article that included my thoughts on this topic, titled “For Kids, Free Time Equals Screen Time – So Parents Fight Back.”
Modern parents don’t want kids spending all their time on devices. They want to see their kids develop face-to-face relationships and get back to old-fashioned playtime.
Parents feel irritated, frustrated, even guilty, when they look over and see their child on their screen AGAIN. Parents are coming to the conclusion that a better option is to let kids have free time, but offer suggestions for how to make it meaningful, with ideas for how kids can occupy themselves.
Experts at the Center for Online Safety advise that parents get together (we call it “Align” in our Five Circles of Online Safety) and think it through in advance.
What DO you want your child to turn to when they have free time?
Make a list!
Then schedule a family meeting to discuss screen time limits and come up with a plan as a family for “free time”. We suggest routines that include offline time before school and at bedtime.
Here’s a starter list we’ve created of 100+ Offline Activities for Kids.
Feel free to use the ideas that work and supplement with your own activities (Better yet–share them with us!). Post this list on your refrigerator. Let your kids know that they can add to this list and pick an idea when they’re bored. This way your children have a starting point of parent-approved ideas to pull from.